Part of being an adult is knowing when to do the dishes or how to iron a tie. If someone has an appointment with you they should see you when they get there, not wait around for you to arrive. Managing the space you live in and getting your life in order so you can have one. My friends in my twenties that I didn’t know very well would sometimes worry that if they couldn’t get a partner by 25 that they’d known for awhile it might mean giving up dating or settling for whoever they could easily get into a relationship with.
Somehow out of all of those frustrations, the one that stuck with me the most was the one that dealt the least with people. There’s an idea that if we keep our lives organized that we’re better at being adults than the rest of people around us. The words most people might use could be something like a colloquial version of “A productive member of society.” Sometimes you might see a person you know on the street and tell them “glad to see you’re being a productive member of society”.
Most of my favorite objects are videogames. I know off the top of my head that a Playstation two game-box is 7.5 inches by 5.25 inches, but even though I am intimately familiar with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater I could currently not tell you where the hell it has disappeared to in my house.
Panic and frustration.
In Resident Evil we are taught that the key to our survival is managing our inventory. Don’t forget how many bullets you can still pick up in this room…remember where this herb is. Combine things to save space when you can. That it is faster to stop time and join a handgun and a clip together then watch your avatar do it is not true to real life. People have probably died in real life over how long that takes. You rarely die in videogames these days while reloading by the way – and until I do I wont be convinced we’re accurately simulating war.
Resident Evil imparts the lesson on the player that one key to survival will be managing your inventory space. Knowing when to leave an item behind and come back to it later. Don’t forget how many bullets you have at any given time. Remember where you left an herb to make space for a locket. It’s faster to stop time and combine a handgun with a box of ammo than watch your avatar do it. People have probably died reloading numerous times in real life.
“Manage your inventory space” is not expressly how I have heard people older than me berate me for how sloppily I tend to live. Not even when I was a teenager and sometimes went eight months without properly cleaning my room – I mostly just got asked how I could stand to live in it.
The mansion in the original Resident Evil can be traversed in a couple of minutes. The whole scenario can be finished in just a matter of a couple of hours. Even though the Spencer Mansion is a lot filthier than my room or my house ever has been, Jill and Chris don’t ever seem to vocalize any annoyance at the decrepitude of the house. Though, they really don’t have to spend as much time there as I ever did in my room.
If I told the people that ask me how I live in such filth that I could barely organize a 4 x 12 attache case in Resident Evil let alone a room full of irregularly sized objects it would probably not go over well. Kids, don’t ever shirk your responsibilities in real life because they can sometimes be hard in a digital one. Living two lives is already hard enough.
With exception most characters in all of the Resident Evil franchise are adults. Outside of Spencer Mansion or Raccoon City they might have had problems like we do when it comes to the places we live in. There is a sense of frustration we might share – they could get stuck in a place literally trying to kill them. We can get stuck in life in a dirty apartment or trapped in a house we cant move out of.
Getting stuck in real life seldom offers any escape like Videogames do. For must of us – videogames are that escape. They present us with problems that can be solved by just picking up more items. Have more first-aid-spray’s stocked. Have your ammo saved up for an encounter with a boss. Know where the items you need for puzzles are.
None of the problems of a life can ever be solved by getting more of something. In real life, the more you have the more you might get weighed down. Sometimes there’s something great about weighed down with too much of something. The pleasure of an artist walking through a hallway plastered with the many paintings she made in her life that she couldn’t bear to part with. A keepsake from an ex boyfriend that reminds us of when they were still alive.
They might make you feel better, but they can never really take you anywhere.
In real life though, we maintain our relationships with items. They might not open a locked door when we’re being chased, but they could give us something to talk about with that person we cant stand. The more things you can afford to do, the more experiences you have to share. Sometimes we can’t get the objects we need or go the places we want and life becomes a different kind of puzzle. A lonely and isolating one.
We get to wander our own lonely mansions in the dark sometimes. Waiting for something to leap out and get us with nothing to defend ourselves with. Objects can be comfort too, like a handgun letting the player feel safe enough in a lonely hallway when they hear a gurgling moan one hallway over. Knowing what we’re going to see every time we open the front door to our house. No changes. Everything in its place.
Our real life inventories seldom can set us free. You can get rid of as many objects as you want but our relationships to the things we hold onto are still ultimately what defines us. it seems like no matter what we do in real life, nothing can really be solved.
Every interaction where you rely on an object you covet turns into the one where you’re pulled to the floor with no ammo to defend yourself. Every puzzle is the one where you’re incinerated because you didn’t have the right key or crushed by the walls around you. Possessions we project too much meaning on have a way of consuming us on their own. The artist walking through a hallway plastered with her art only sees failures she was never able to profit off of. The keepsake from an ex boyfriend only reminds you that they’re not around.
The inventory in Resident Evil 2 is a 4 x 2 grid. Sometimes you have to leave the things you love behind. That’s what it really teaches you.